Letter from the editors:
Columbia University Press has a long history of bringing the Asian classics to an Anglophone audience. The books we present to you in this 2020 catalog continue that tradition, while also paying close attention to the larger role of Asia in the world. These books span many fields in Asian studies—history, politics, literary studies, philosophy, religion, and film—and reflect the interdisciplinary and global approach of our list.
Eugenia Lean’s Vernacular Industrialism in China explores how Chen Diexian (1879–1940) drew on wideranging literati interests and abilities—including a facility for languages—to become a successful modern entrepreneur. Meanwhile, William Hedberg questions the very concept of a national canon with The Japanese Discovery of Chinese Fiction, and Tsuji Nobuo’s History of Art in Japan—now available in a full-color paperback edition—traces a tradition of artistic production that continues to have significant influence on aesthetics worldwide.
Among the many outstanding philosophy and religion titles in this year’s catalog, several deserve special attention. Beef, Brahmins, and Broken Men is an annotated critical election from B. R. Ambedkar’s classic work The Untouchables, which provides his speculative historical account of how the Dalits came to exist. Wisdom as a Way of Life: Theravāda Buddhism Reimagined is the final work of Steven Collins; by reinterpreting Theravāda texts and practices as guides to the development of the self, it promises to change the field of Buddhist studies. And Buddhism and Medicine: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Sources, edited by C. Pierce Salguero, completes his vast project to document the global historical relationship between Buddhism and medicine.
In history and politics, Columbia continues its long tradition of publishing cutting-edge works that speak to Asia’s past and present. We are especially pleased to be publishing new global histories of Asia that span a wide-range of periods, from Adam Clulow’s Amboina, 1623: Fear and Conspiracy on the Edge of Empire to Raja Adal’s Beauty in the Age of Empire: Japan, Egypt, and the Global History of Aesthetic Education. These works join our recent modern histories of the region, such as Robert Culp’s The Power of Print in Modern China: Intellectuals and Industrial Publishing from the End of Empire to Maoist State Socialism and Craig Etcheson’s detailed account of the Cambodian war crimes trials, Extraordinary Justice: Law, Politics, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunals.
In politics, Nicholas Jepson explores the effects of China’s global investments in In China’s Wake: How the Commodity Boom Transformed Development Strategies in the Global South. And in Dying for Rights: Putting North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses on the Record, Sandra Fahy provides a moving account of one of the biggest political and human rights challenges in East Asia today.
Finally, we hope you will peruse our new translations, particularly for use in your classrooms. Wai-yee Li’s Plum Shadows and Plank Bridge: Two Memoirs About Courtesans combines a pitch-perfect translation with an excellent introduction to the Ming-Qing transition. A Couple of Soles is the first Li Yu play to be available in English translation, and Jing Shen and Robert Hegel have done a fine job of capturing the humor of the original. For those more interested in the present day, Timothy Cheek, David Ownby, and Joshua A. Fogel have brought together translations from each of China’s main intellectual clusters—liberals, the New Left, and New Confucians—in Voices from the Chinese Century. And There a Petal Silently Falls, a haunting response to the Kwangju Massacre of 1980, is newly available in paperback.